December 7 & 8, 2019 ~ Free Concerts

December 7 & 8, 2019 ~ Free Concerts

“VARIATIONS PLUS” (Free Concerts)

Saturday, December 7, 2019 ~ 3:00 pm
Valley Presbyterian Church
2800 S Camino Del Sol, Green Valley
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Sunday, December 8, 2019 ~ 3:00 pm
Christ Church United Methodist
655 N Craycroft Rd, Tucson
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John Cheetham ~ Variations on a Gregorian Hymn
Ralph Vaughan Williams ~ Five Variants of “Dives and Lazarus”
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky ~ Symphony No. 5 in E minor

Free concerts with open seating. No tickets are required at either location.

Music Director Charles Bontrager leads the Civic Orchestra of Tucson in “Variations Plus,” a free concert of three classical works.

The concert opens with “Variations on a Gregorian Hymn” by John Cheetham. This work presents the noted Gregorian chant “Pange lingua gloriosi” in many harmonious styles and rhythms, creating a fascinating set of variations on the original simple tune. Dr. Cheetham recently wrote to us about this piece. “The work is based on the chant ‘Pange Lingua Gloriosi,’ a tune that I first learned after my conversion to Catholicism nearly 60 years ago. This beautiful theme is normally associated with the Easter season. It is comprised of 6 musical phrases, each of which becomes a basis for a variation. In that regard, it is an unusual set of variations. At the end of the work, the theme is restated in the brass amid a flurry of activity in the rest of the orchestra. Charles Bontrager gave the premiere of the work with the Springfield Symphony on March 18, 1989. Since that time, he has used it on several occasions with various groups. I am deeply indebted to Charles for commissioning the work and continuing to promote it.”

Next on the program is “Five Variants of ‘Dives and Lazarus’” by Ralph Vaughan Williams, an incredibly lush work for harp and string orchestra. The strings are, at times, divided into eighteen different parts, creating a wash of sumptuous sound. The work is inspired by English folk songs.

The concert concludes with Tchaikovsky’s massive Symphony No. 5, composed in 1888. One of his most popular works, this symphony is perhaps best known for the beautiful horn solo in the second movement, shown below. A recurring main theme unifies the symphony’s four movements.

Horn solo, Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 5

Click to read the program notes for this concert, written by Charles Bontrager.

Click to read our recent email newsletter with more information about these pieces, including how the strings are divided into 18 parts for the Ralph Vaughan Williams piece (with a snippet of the score).
Subscribe to our free newsletter here.

Read the article “Civic Orchestra of Tucson performing work based on Gregorian chants” by Cathalena E. Burch in the AZ Daily Star (December 4, 2019).

For more information about these concerts, visit or call 520-730-3371.

Business Sponsors of these Concerts

In Tucson

Instrumental Music Center
7063 E Speedway Blvd ~ 520-733-7334
405 E Wetmore Rd ~ 520-408-8003

In Green Valley/Sahuarita

Access Wisdom In-Home Care
270 W Continental Rd #104 ~ 520-393-0300

Asarco Mineral Discovery Center
1421 E Pima Mine Rd ~520-625-8233

Green Valley Plumbing
750 W Camino Casa Verde ~ 520-625-8976

Green Valley Sahuarita Chamber of Commerce
275 W Continental Rd #123 ~ 520-625-7575